Just like studying, there are many ways to teach and these are directly related to the learner’s acquisition of knowledge.
LEARNING is a life-long process that varies in its intensity depending on personal motivation, opportunities, the expectations of others, the need to know, and one’s financial and scholastic capacity.
Positive learning outcomes are maximised and the learning process is most effective when the learning environment is non-threatening, comfortable, adequately equipped, supportive and “owned” by the learner.
Learning is also most effective when it begins with the “Simple” and the “Known”, and sequentially proceeds to the “Complex” and the “Unknown”. This can be carried out by building on the foundation of a learner’s prior knowledge and “environmental” experiences.
It can be accelerated by using technology that enhances traditional auditory, visual and kinaesthetic teaching techniques, eg. computers, Power-Point presentations, videos, DVD’s and CD’s, tape recorders, video cameras, CD and DVD players, television, etc.
The learning process
Every learner should be seen as an individual and the teaching strategies used should, as much as possible, be learner-centred.
Initial teacher-direction and demonstration will gradually result in exploration and discovery on the part of the learner to the point where the learner “owns” the learning process.
In pursuing a learner-centred approach to teaching, tutoring and training, prominence must be given to the concept of the student being “an independent learner”.
In turn, the teacher, tutor or trainer should adopt the role of guide, facilitator, mentor, counsellor, adviser and the person to whom the student later turns to for confirmation, correction, conferring and commendation.
The objective of any learning process, especially the acquisition of English language skills, is the development, exploration, repair, reinforcement and on-going enhancement of conceptual understanding.
Providing opportunities for learners to think critically and creatively about the English language, to solve contextually-related problems, and to make appropriate decisions in relation to the use and function of words and constructions, are keys to achieving this goal.
Factors such as gender, socio-economic status, cultural and linguistic heritage — and even city and rural living — can influence and shape an individual’s attitude towards learning.
Developing a relationship and rapport with each learner is crucial for effective teaching.
The professional teacher needs to know as much as possible about his or her students: their full name (and nickname), family and cultural background, religion, special interests, personal likes and dislikes, pets, things they like to do, etc. In other words, a detailed, personal profile.
English Second Language (ESL) learners
Many ESL learners often only voluntarily respond verbally in English language situations when they are required to or pressed to do so.
Young ESL learners can often take a long time to express themselves in an English language “exchange” and thus need to be given sufficient time, incentives and encouragement to participate.
Their involvement needs to be “drawn” and encouraged using a variety of teaching styles and methods.
ESL learners may lose their initial motivation over time and become bored, tired and non-receptive when their interests are not considered.
Variations in the teaching techniques used can be the solution, especially “art-based” activities such as music, songs, painting, drawing, designing, drama, games and craft.
All of these give the sense of “purpose”, “meaning” and “enjoyment” as well as a greater feeling of personal control.
Working in pairs (the buddy system) and small groups is also an effective “re-motivation” tool and an alternative teaching strategy for regenerating student involvement and interest.
One also needs to be aware of home-related issues that may be affecting individual learner performance, eg. family, parental, financial and medical issues.
Experienced, professional teachers will endorse the contention that there is considerable benefit to be derived by adopting a balanced policy of allowing choice, self direction and guided learning; particularly in the Productive Macro Skill areas of reading, viewing and listening, and also in drama, music and art-related activities.
English language learners need classroom language encounters that are built around real-life, meaningful experiences that are relevant to “their world”.
These language encounters can also be developed through group studies and individual research, task-based projects in which learners gather environmental information about animals that are found in their region or country, eg. local foods, sports, nearby geographical features, nationalistic symbols and social subjects such as road safety, poverty and education.
Where an ESL learner is from another cultural background and may have experienced a different learning style, the importance of using learner-centred, teaching strategies and techniques becomes paramount if learning outcomes are to be realised and teaching objectives achieved.
To this end, teachers need to commit themselves to study and research the learner’s former educational environment and where possible, build a meaningful “bridge” from the past to the present using material and methods that are culturally relevant and appropriate.
The 10 P’s of Teaching
Teachers and tutors should also take into account the 10 P’s of teaching:
Keith Wright is the author and creator of the 4S Approach To Literacy and Language — a modern, innovative and proven method of accelerating the learning of English. The 4S methodology and the associated Accelerated English Programme mentioned in this fortnightly column are now being used internationally to enhance the English proficiency of people with different competency levels. EXPLORING ENGLISH By KEITH W. RIGHT E-mail contact@4Sliteracy.com.au for free copies of the third set of PDF charts on Symbols and Symbol Combinations. The STAR Online Home Education Sunday, December 2, 2012